Close to Famous

by Joan Bauer
ages: 11+
First sentence: “The last place I thought I’d be when this day began is where I am, which is in a car.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!

Things in this book that I’m getting mightily tired of:
Dead parent (this time, it was in Iraq; at least it wasn’t cancer)
Small town as a place of Redemption and Wholesome Values (why doesn’t anyone ever write about how confining a small town can be?)
Cooking/food as a means to Overcome Everything
Mom’s bad boyfriends (this time there was domestic abuse)

Things that worked reasonably well, even though I’ve seen them before:
Children who have a Brilliant Talent (in this case, baking) that Brings The Town Together
Faded Hollywood stars who have Lessons to Teach
Pursuing your dreams as a Means For Happiness
Big Bad Businesses that Promise Things to small towns but Never Follow Through (a prison was built outside of this town, and they promised lots of jobs. Of course, it never happened. Likewise, there was a small subplot about a big business trying to buy out a church. I never quite understood what the purpose of that one was.)

Things that I actually liked:
The cover
That the main character couldn’t read. There was no explanation given, no label; she just has a hard time reading. Bauer handled it well, the shame our main character, Foster, felt because she couldn’t read and her desire to want to read as well as her inability to overcome this. It was a damning portrait of schools: she slid through the grades because no one wanted to hold her back, and yet no one took the time to help actually teach her to read. If she hadn’t moved and found a group of people who were willing to help, then what would have happened to her? It made me angry at the teachers and the schools that let her slide, that never saw Foster for what she was: a person who needed help. Argh.

Things I wished the book had included:

I think the ultimate problem with this book is that it was too much like several others I’ve read and/or tried to read (Rocky Road, Scones and Sensibility, Dear Julia, Waiting for Normal, Okay for Now, The Dancing Pancake; not to mention It’s Raining Cupcakes, which I actually didn’t read, but C did), that I felt more annoyance than enjoyment while reading. Which is too bad, because I usually like Bauer’s books.

2 thoughts on “Close to Famous

  1. I like how absolutely straight forward you were in this review. I smiled at the cliches both good and bad, you're right, books ALWAYS seem to have at least one of these things going on.


  2. ha. I was thinking of writing a post about all the things that I am sick and tired of in books lately… Some of the reasons are on your list just for this one book. lol


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s